Concept of Power


According to Crozier and Friedberg [1], actions in organizations are strategic and any individual can take advantage of power at his disposal to serve his purposes, whatever his place in the organization.

The authors focused on relations in power arguing that : "acting  on  others is getting in relationship with them, and that this connection develops the power of person A to person B."



Nature of Relationships

Therefore, Crozier and Friedberg pointed out characteristics of relations in organizations :

Characteristic # 1 Instrumental relationship and teleological principle: “ Power has to be conceived in the context of goals that motivates actors’ commitment."

Characteristic # 2 Non transitive relationship between actors: “Power is closely linked to requested actions…and every action is a specific issue around which is grafted a special relationship"

Characteristic # 3 Mutual but unbalanced relationship: "It's a power relationship where one can get more than the other without being totally helpless in front of the others"

Nature of Power

Crozier and Friedberg thus highlighted characteristics of powers in organizations :

Characteristic # 1 Expertise: " The expert is the only one who has the know-how, knowledge, experience of the context to resolve some critical issues "

Characteristic # 2  Environment management:  "The organization depends on its environment to obtain the material and human resources necessary for its operation and to sell its products and/or services."

Characteristic # 3  Controlling information flows in the organization: “ To fulfill the function assigned to his post, the person needs information from other positions held by other individuals."

 Characteristic # 4 Appropriate use of rules: "They are made to reduce sources of uncertainty". The organization has to use them appropriately, not confusing individuals or allowing them to take advantage of the game.

This approach reveals the resources of individuals at any level of the organization, offering them the freedom to gain power by means of the relevant tactical actions.


[1] Crozier, M et Friedberg, E. L'acteur et le système. Les contraintes de l'action collective. Seuil, 1992.

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